Our History


In 1996, after long negotiations, 150 countries adopted the first Global Plan of Action (GPA) for conserving and using crop diversity. The GPA called for a rational global conservation system, based on the principles of effectiveness, efficiency and transparency. In 2011, the Second Global Plan of Action reiterated that call.

In between, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which came into force in 2004, placed an effective, efficient global system at the core of its efforts to conserve and use crop diversity for food security.

The Crop Trust was established by Bioversity International on behalf of the CGIAR and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to help support this global system in a sustainable way, through a Crop Diversity Endowment Fund. This provides long-term grants to safeguard collections of unique and valuable crop diversity held in genebanks around the world. Priority is given to 25 crops among those listed in Annex 1 of the International Treaty, of particular importance to the food security of least developed countries.

  • 1993

    The Convention on Biological Diversity

    Convention on Biological Diversity raised concerns about the conservation of crop diversity.

  • 1994

    First "In-Trust" Agreements

    CGIAR Centre – FAO signed “in-trust” agreements requiring centres to maintain and freely distribute plant genetic resources for food and agriculture collections forever.

  • 1995

    External Review of International Collections

    External review of the international genebanks raised concerns over funding priorities.

  • 1996

    The Global Plan of Action

    Global Plan of Action adopted at Leipzig which called for a “rational global genebank system.”

  • 1999

    Collection Investment Plan

    Genebank investment and upgrading plan developed with significant funding shortfalls.

  • 2000

    Idea of an Endowment Fund

    CGIAR’s Finance Committee’s Working Group on Long-term Resouce Mobilization endorsed IPGRI’s (now Bioversity) recommendation to establish endowment fund to support Centre’s in-trust collections.

    Consultations with FAO, OECD countries, developing countries, the GFAR and NGOs found broad support for idea of endowment fund.

  • 2002

    Committing to Establish the Crop Trust

    FAO and CGIAR formally committed to establishing the Crop Trust at World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg. The website “Start with a Seed” was launched.

  • 2003

    Crop Trust Makes Its Case

    The Crop Trust presented the case for its creation to the 9th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) who strongly endorsed the initiative.

  • 2004

    The Plant Treaty and the Crop Trust

    29 JUNE 2004

    The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture comes into force.

    21 OCTOBER 2004

    The Crop Trust acquired its legal personality under international law when Sweden signed thus fulfilling the requirement for at least 5 of the 7 UN FAO regions to be represented.

  • 2006

    First Long-Term Agreement Signed

    The Crop Trust signed first long-term partnership to support an international collection with the International Rice Research Institute.

  • 2007

    The Crop Trust's First Major Project

    The Crop Trust started work on Securing the Biological Basis of Agriculture.

  • 2008

    The Seed Vault Opened

    The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened in a partnership between the Government of Norway, NordGen, and the Crop Trust.

  • 2009

    The Endowment Fund

    The Crop Trust’s Crop Diversity Endowment Fund surpassed USD 95 million.

  • 2011

    Crop Wild Relative Project Started

  • 2012

    The Genebank CRP Started

    The Crop Trust and CGIAR entered into five-year agreement to manage and sustain the world’s international crop collections.

  • 2013

    New Workplace and Fundraising Strategy Adopted

    The Crop Trust adopted new ten-year Strategic Workplan and Fundraising Strategy to raise USD 850 million to fund global system for the conservation of crop diversity.

  • 2016

    The Pledging Conference

    Governments and private sector organizations met in Washington DC on 15 April 2016 to make a joint commitment to combat world hunger by safeguarding crop diversity, a prerequisite for global food security.

    The meeting paved the way for doubling the Crop Trust Endowment Fund – reaching USD 300 million. In total, half a billion dollars has been pledged towards the work of the Crop Trust, since its inception in 2004.

  • 2017

    The CGIAR Genebank Platform and Food Forever Initiative

    The six-year CGIAR Genebank Platform takes over as the successor to the Genebank CRP.


    The Food Forever Initiative is launched to raise awareness of efforts to achieve Target 2.5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

  • 2018

    Protected in Perpetuity

    The Crop Trust and the International Rice Research Institute sign a long-term partnership agreement, in which the Crop Trust agrees to fully fund the essential operations of the IRRI genebank forever.